How to sell a million electric vehicles

Richard Rosen is the originator and chief architect of Convergence Marketing. He consults with brands to improve their social responsibility through dialogue.

Richard Rosen is the originator and chief architect of Convergence Marketing. He consults with brands to improve their social responsibility through dialogue. 

Oregon is working hard to lead the nation in the electric vehicle sector.

DriveOregon, a nonprofit, public- and private-sector partnership with a mission to promote and grow the electrical vehicle industry, has organized hundreds of groups, governments and nonprofits to garner investment dollars and support to assist EV marketing. Just last month, Governor Kitzhaber test-drove an ultra-efficient three-wheeled electric vehicle from Acrimoto. This Eugene company’s design could revolutionize the way we think about transportation in the 21st century.

More and more, consumers are demanding clean, fuel-efficient vehicles. Even President Barack Obama has called for one million electric vehicles to be on the road by 2015.

This is a stretch goal and it can’t be reached by the electric vehicle industry — or the big automakers that have also dipped a toe into EV production. Why? Because they aren’t communicating the points they need to sell these vehicles. After all, coming up with a cool, efficient prototype is one thing, but creating an empathetic dialogue platform to address the wide range of objections held by consumers is another.

Much of the early marketing efforts for electric vehicles, particularly from big automakers, have been a case in how not to succeed. They’ve been primarily focused on the greenest of early adopters, such as early Prius purchasers. But nobody has figured out how to attract the millions of “middle ground” of consumers who may someday choose an electric vehicle if approached in the right way.

In Oregon and throughout the country, we see innovative transportation technologies emerging and new transportation companies being born on a regular basis. And in order to reach consumers, a new marketing approach is required, one that combines brand advertising that promotes awareness with customer interaction tools.

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